Raising a Bull Calf on the Family Farm

A Missouri woman recalls how her mother raised a pet bull calf that was orphaned in a storm on their family farm

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We lived on a family farm for a couple of years during the Second World War. Our father had died several years before. Three brothers and a brother-in-law were off to war and five of us younger kids were at home. Our 16-year-old brother had an old Model A car that he was always tinkering with. He was our only transportation. We all helped rock that car out of ditches.

The first spring we were there was one of those very wet ones; all the bottoms were covered with water. My sister was watching for this one cow to calve. When she did, she led it across the pasture and it fell off into a ravine that was beginning to fill. Martha got that baby out of the edge of the water and carried it back to the barn. She made a pet out of that little bull calf. During the same wet spell, lightning struck a tree and killed seven head of cattle, which I can still remember being swept away!

Jane Shepard Dungy
Stewartsville, Missouri


Back in 1955 a call went out from the editors of the then Capper’s Weekly asking for readers to send in articles on true pioneers. Hundreds of letters came pouring in from early settlers and their children, many now in their 80s and 90s, and from grandchildren of settlers, all with tales to tell. So many articles were received that a decision was made to create a book, and in 1956, the first My Folks title – My Folks Came in a Covered Wagon – hit the shelves. Nine other books have since been published in the My Folks series, all filled to the brim with true tales from Capper’s readers, and we are proud to make those stories available to our growing online community.